Thursday, 19 May 2011

"Atlantic Room"

"Nocturne, 2009", Alice Dalton Brown, Oil on Canvas, 101, 6 x 160,2 cm, Fischbach Gallery, New York

If there is a way
I'll find it
and if I'll find it
I'll find my home

Ocean breeze at moonlight. Calm, soothing breeze. Darkness and light. Ripples across the water. Water, water, dots of white on colour. Blue, deep blue. Silence everywhere. Sometimes, the gentle rustling in the curtains. Shh, shh, shh. The house, floating on the waters. Another world, another time. Floating world, fleeting world. Ukiyo-e. House as a sanctuary, when everything else feels uncertain, when all the lights outside are gone. Nocturne.

In “Nocturne, 2009”, Realist painter Alice Dalton Brown demonstrates once again, her perfect skills in the delicate art of balancing reality with dream. “Nocturne, 2009”, belongs to the series of “Nocturnes and Diurnes” paintings, Alice Dalton Brown's twelfth exhibition at the Fischbach Gallery in New York. The artist's signature, seaviews from a window frame, with diaphanous curtains blowing in the wind, is a friendly invitation to find this inner peace that is so desperatly missing in our modern, busy lives. 

Although “Nocturne, 2009” has a strong, meticulously calculated composition, there is an element of randomness, a let-go feeling distilled into the pictorial space. Dual space. The outdoors: the tranquil ocean, with the shimmering light dancing on its surface, the shrub shadow behind the gently moving curtains. The sky, purplish, organic-like, somewhat ominous. The indoors: the wooden floor, with its puddle of moonlight on the left-hand side. The curtains, diaphanous, them too, almost organic. The breezy air lifts the gossamer curtains, as would the wind with a sailing ship. Air, water and light. Brown's painting is a subtle dialogue between the controlled, geometrical elements and that of the organic realm. A back and forth movement between the matter and the evanescence. The known and the unknown. 

Waking in the darkness
in the cool and salty air
rustle from the doorway

away, away
the faint echo
of chamber music

When looking at “Nocturne, 2009”, one can almost feel the tension between the natural and artificial world. Yet, the artist went beyond this apparent dualism by drawing our attention to the threshold of both realms, to the in-between space of her composition. There is something reticent in “Nocturne, 2009”, as one would be before entering in a seemingly deserted house. Empty house? Is “Nocturne, 2009” an empty house? The painter left visual clues – the curtains, the polished floor, the open doorway – of human presence. Perhaps, someone sitting or lying in the dark, just left the room and went out for a night swim? Atmosphere. The whole painting is atmosphere. Respiration. Ocean at night. Time and space, a pulsing lung in the cocoon of our dreams. House and heart on stilts. Ukiyo-e.

Shadow among shadows
nothing but seams
in the weave of time!

Do not move 
your dream is yet to pass

And the deep night
in bluish tinge

To whom do we paint
but for those
already in the darkness?

Image licensing, courtesy of Alice Dalton Brown and the Fischbach Gallery, New York, to whom I here express my gratitude for their kindness and trust.

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